Fetal Movement
1. What Is Fetal Movement?

Before birth, the unborn baby is called a fetus, and independent movement by the fetus in the womb is called fetal movement. Fetal movement is first noticeable at about 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. Perceptions of fetal movement vary for each mother, but fetal movement also depends on the gestational age. At around 20 weeks, many pregnant women say fetal movement feels like stomach gas, but as the pregnancy progress, women often say they can feel fetal movement inside them. Many woman report kicking, rolling, and other feelings.

It is very important for the doctor and the mother to know if the fetus is healthy and growing properly, but that is not so easy to know. It's impossible to know what the baby will look like, and it's difficult even to do a blood test on a growing fetus. Except for when an ultrasound exam is done in the doctor's office, no one really knows what's happening inside the mother's womb, not even the mother! However, fetal movement is one widely recognized sign that intuitively tells us that the fetus is healthy and growing properly. One test used worldwide to determine whether or not the fetus is healthy is an ultrasound biophysical profile (BPP), known as the Manning exam after its developer. This exam consists of five parts, and three are related to fetal movement, so you can see how important fetal movement is to the health of a growing baby.

But pregnant women spend most of their time outside medical facilities, and it is almost impossible to objectively know how much fetal movement there is. The perinatal mortality rate is much lower in Japan than it is in some parts of the world, but even in Japan, there are still instances of fetal death in utero, mostly for unknown reasons. In the past, it was thought that cerebral palsy might be caused by difficulty during labor, but now we know that the condition develops during pregnancy. Thus, medical professionals would like to have an objective and easy way to monitor fetal movement at home over the long-term.

‚QDCurrent Testing Methods

Ultrasound is the main technology used to check fetal heart rate, gather diagnostic information, and monitor fetal movement. Toitu Co. Ltd., Atom Medical, and Yokogawa Medical all make and sell ultrasound equipment in Japan, and most hospitals can do ultrasound examinations.

‚RDThe FMAM System

The FMAM recorder is a small device designed using the principle of acceleration. Two small sensors are attached to a pregnant woman's body and left there while she sleeps overnight at home. Fetal movement is recorded onto an SD data card. This device was developed as a screening tool that could be used by the women themselves to monitor fetal well-being. After a number of recordings over several gestational weeks, the woman gives the SD data card to her doctor or midwife for analysis by a simple computer program.